Cooktops can be tricky to shop, but pretty easy to understand. Our Guide To Buying A Cooktop Will give you a comprehensive overview of cooktop types, features and ventilation requirements.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing a cooktop.
Cooktop Fuel Types
Gas cooktops, which use natural gas (or propane, when converted to LP), offer a bold look, usually with commercial-style details, and powerful burners. Many prefer gas cooktops for its precise heat control of the burners and its ability to quickly heat up. Gas cooktops are also ideal for high-heat cooking methods such as searing and cooking with a wok. (A code compliant gas connection Natural gas must be available in your home in order to install a gas cooktop.)
Electric cooktops, also known as radiant cooktops, offer a sleek design along with elements capable of high temperatures and great responsiveness. In general, electric cooktops offer greater flexibility than gas cooktops for installation, and the smooth surfaces are sleek and easy to clean.
Induction cooktops, which provide a smooth appearance, use electricity as well as magnetic fields to transfer heat in a different way than traditional radiant cooktops. Heat is directed right to the pan, leaving the surrounding cooking surface cool to the touch. Induction technology typically uses 25% less energy than traditional electric cooktops and 58% less energy than traditional gas cooktops.† The combined precision and speed of gas with the look and convenience of electric, make induction cooktops highly responsive as well as energy efficient.
Keep in mind: While most cookware will work with induction cooktops, not all do. Copper cookware, for example, will not work with induction. An easy way to determine if a pan is compatible is to hold a magnet up to it. If the magnet sticks to the pan surface, the pan works with induction.
Downdraft cooktops feature a built-in ventilation system that captures smoke and odors right at the cooking surface. This means you don’t need a hood, which offers flexibility in kitchen design and in the placement of the cooktop itself. The absence of a hood also adds to the sense of openness in the kitchen, which many designers and homeowners appreciate. Many people choose to install a downdraft cooktop in an island, which allows them to interact with people as they cook.
If you live in a condominium or apartment, ask if your building has drafting requirements. You may want to consider a downdraft option with a duct-free ventilation kit to accommodate any requirements.
Traditional cooktops, also known as smooth-tops, feature a smooth ceramic or ceramic-glass surface that houses the heating elements. The flat surface makes it easy to keep clean and maintain its sleek appearance.
Modular cooktops feature interchangeable cartridges that allow you to customize your cooktop. You can select different burner types and griddles, and configure to suit your cooking preferences.
British Thermal Units (BTUs) are the measure of a burner’s energy output, and refer to gas burners. Each burner has its own BTU measurement. Higher BTU output means higher heat—important for cooking techniques like searing. Lower BTU output means lower heat—important when melting butter or simmering delicate sauces.
Many cooktops offer a feature known as; “searing” this process comes in handy while cooking various types of meat. It is designed to apply heat quickly while cooking for you to keep a higher amount of juice inside. Meats such as a fillet Mignon and a simple classic steak are perfect examples of when to use this technique.
On height-end cooktops there is an element between the front and back burners referred to as a “bridge”. This increases cooking options by allowing you to place large or oblong pans on one whole side of the cooktop and achieve even heat.
Many cooktops feature a fifth, lower powered (20-100 watt) burner known as the warming zone. This zone is often used to prevent dishes from cooling while the rest of the meal is being prepared. The warming zone provides flexibility and convenience.
Dual and Triple Radiant Elements
Dual and triple radiant elements offer the space-saving advantage of having two or three elements in one to handle various sizes of cookware. The inner ring is ideal for simmering or quickly boiling water in small pans. The larger outer ring evenly distributes heat to larger pots and pans for optimal results.
Cooktops need ventilation. If you don’t opt for downdraft, you’ll need to choose a hood for ventilation. The type you choose will depend largely on the location of the cooktop in your kitchen. Also consider how you like to cook. For instance, do you frequently sear, blacken or flash fry? This determines how much ventilation power you’ll need. There are several options.
Wall mount hoods are a good option when your cooktop is positioned next to a wall. They offer powerful ventilation.
Island mount hoods essentially “float” directly over where your cooktop is placed within an island, for powerful ventilation right where it’s needed.
Low profile hoods offer a more minimal-looking installation but offer slightly less powerful ventilation than other hood types. They install directly underneath the cabinet situated above your cooktop.
Perimetric hoods, designed to hang on the wall like a work of art, offer powerful ventilation and will make a dramatic statement in your kitchen.
Custom hood liners are ideal to achieve a distinctive ventilation look. They feature a ventilation system mounted to the inside of a custom vent cover. This cover can be made of metal, wood, plaster or tile, and designed to complement cabinetry or make a bold statement.
Cooktops offer many options for configuration and placement, and there are several attractive finish options to complement your kitchen.
Choose stainless steel, sleek black or white glass or black or white options. Many cooktops also offer a frameless finish.
Cooktop vs. Rangetop
Both cooktops and rangetops are stand-alone “tops” that feature heating elements or burners only—they don’t feature an oven beneath. Cooktops lie flat on a countertop to become flush or nearly flush with it; controls are positioned flat upon the cooktop surface. Rangetops fit above and over a countertop with controls positioned vertically.
Cooktops offer more installation flexibility; they have fewer infrastructure requirements and can be installed in smaller spaces with or without support from cabinetry.
Cooktops also offer several fuel-type options, while rangetops are typically gas-powered. Our cooktops offer a variety of fuel types and styles: gas, electric and induction. Our rangetops offer high-power cooking options like our most powerful gas burner, along with professional-style details like heavy-duty knobs and grates.
Have questions? To speak with a Sales Representative, use the quote form or call a showroom near you.
Source: Cooktop Shopping Guide, The Official Site of Jenn-Air Luxury Kitchen Appliances (n.d.). Retrieved July 29, 2014, from http://jennair.com/planning/appliance-guides/cooktops
†Based on boiling 3.6 liters of water with a 9” 3,200-watt induction element compared to a traditional 9” 2,500-watt radiant element of a 12,500 BTU gas burner.